Line Holiday

Chris was just taken down to the OR to have all of his lines removed. This includes his pleurex catheter (a drain in his abdomen that works to alleviate some of the cancer ascites), his Denver shunt, and his vascular catheter (the line in his neck from which he gets dialysis, chemo, and his TPN (nutrition). It’s called a “line holiday,” and he’s getting it done because he has infection around the Denver and the pleurex. The infectious disease doctor isn’t worried about the infection ultimately, but it needs to be resolved in order to move ahead with more important things. An infection would be lethal if his white count bottomed out again in response to a chemo treatment. Thankfully, he has really bounced back–or hobbled back–from the adverse effects of his last treatment, and his body can handle this nuisance at the moment.

Chris fears having all of these things removed; he’s afraid of swelling in his abdomen and no easy way to relieve it. And he’s afraid of the pain the procedure may bring. Getting the shunt put in was traumatic on his body. My hope is that having it removed will be less so. As far as the swelling goes, everyone here has been encouraged by a seeming slow down of that. It’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of this, but it could be any number of these things working together: the shunt effectively moving abdominal fluid into his vascular system, dialysis (though I don’t think dialysis would play a major role in that particular area), and, best case scenario, the cancer responding well to the chemo and actually secreting less fluid. Having the shunt removed might help clarify this one way or another.

Chris’s spirits are so-so. How he feels in his spirit is often so commensurate with how he feels in his body. It’s actually been beautiful to see how he is coming to accept this. He told me the other day that he is putting less pressure on himself to feel spiritually strong. Chris is a pious man, and I mean that in the best, most sincere way possible. He is active in his pursuit of truth and righteousness. He wants to please God. He reveres the Lord. But now I see him struggle to focus on anything but Shark Tank, and something inside of me knows, There is truth here. We are helpless. Our love of righteousness, our fear of God, and our ability to actively pursue him is a grace from his Spirit. But learning to be. And to know that we’re OK. To simply exist as children of God. Because he has declared that is what we are. What surety can we add to that?

Chris’s 40th birthday is tomorrow–or today, depending on when you’re reading this. Vanessa, the nurse leader of the floor, just came in and asked me what Chris wants for his birthday. She said, “We want to celebrate him and make him feel special. We’re family now, that’s where we’re at. It’s been a long journey.” I prayed this morning for God to let Chris live because I want to see who he is becoming. I so want to see what man comes out of this long journey. Of course it’ll still be Chris, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But who will Chris be? My heart wants to know this so badly.

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